Thursday, April 20, 2006

A wonderful blue-eyed soul voice

To say I am pleased that Elliott Yamin is finally out of the bottom 3 in American Idol is an understatement. I didn't think he deserved to be in the bottom 2 the week Mandisa was eliminated, and he sure as hell shouldn't have been anywhere near the bottom spot last week after his amazing rendition of Queen's "Somebody to love!"

So I'm really glad that he was safe tonight. And now he's made it to the top 6 which is an amazing achievement in that he is truly the talented underdog of the competition. What is great too is that as the weeks progress, he keeps getting more comfortable on stage (he still needs improvement on his stage presence but has gotten a lot better and he doesn't seem as awkward or nervous as he used to be, and he is looking and smiling at the camera a lot more. Obviously the vocals are still there, fantastic as always).

Let me step back a bit...

My first post about AI this season was at the Top 24 stage when I said my top 4 were Taylor, Mandisa, Paris, and Katharine. I didn't really get to see Elliott at all prior to this, mainly coz I didn't watch most of the Hollywood elimination episodes. But on that first day, he made me notice with his solid cover of Stevie Wonder's "If you really love me" and I figured this was a voice I could end up rooting for too.

The week after that made me an Elliott convert - his "Moody's Mood for Love" was absolutely, jaw-droppingly amazing. After that week, he became one of my faves (it was also in that week that I threw Chris into my faves list and so now I had my fave 6).

Thing was, virtually everyone in my fave 6 had become quite inconsistent. Taylor's 'Easy' was ho-hum and his 'Don't fade away' left me thinking, "What the hell was that?" I thought Paris was off-pitch for most of 'How do I live' and her 'Conga' performance was lackluster. Mandisa made me cringe with her scream-ridden delivery of 'Praise you', and she was sub-par and uninteresting while singing 'Any man of mine' during country week. Katharine looked like a bad impersonator when she took on Christina's 'The Voice Within', and her high notes in 'All is fair in love' were horrendous. Also during Queen week, Chris shouted most of 'Innuendo' being unable to remain pitch perfect for most of the latter half of the song, and singing 'What a wonderful world' last night exposed his lack of vocal control (with his voice breaking up too much in the wrong places) and his tendency to go out of tune.

Elliott however has remained consistent. None of his performances, even his 'worst' ones (like 'Teach me tonight' and 'If Tomorrow Never Comes') were bad. And he always manages to arrange the song in such a way that it works with his voice and style.

After a few rounds of the finals stages, I ended up becoming an Elliott advocate. I still was (and remain to be) a fan of the rest of my fave 6, but let me put it this way - if I was in the US now, I'd be voting for Elliott for the entire two hours after the show.

I think the pimp-fest they threw Elliott's way last week when Ryan Seacrest blatantly asked America after his results show performance if that was a guy who should be voted off, and when word got out of his diabetes and the rest of his ailments in life (possibly getting him pity votes along the way) helped keep Elliott safe this week, and may have finally garnered Elliott a few more voters. Picking a song this week that people were familiar with helped too.

Next week, the theme is the Greatest Love Songs of all time. That seems right up Elliott's alley. And it seems all contestants get to sing two songs. Man, I hope he manages to put in one or two of the best performances of the season that week and manage to get to the top 5 (or maybe even further...)

I think that Elliott winning is highly unlikely, what with Taylor and Kellie seeming to have majority of the votes and with the judges and producers seeming to favor the much more marketable Chris and Kat. However, I will continue to hope each week that more voters turn to Elliott and give him their support. I also hope that Elliott eventually gets signed by a producer. If you listen to mp3s of his performance (which you can download online if you have enough time in your hands to search for them), you will realize his voice is so easy on the ears and you will love listening to him sing over and over again. I really can't wait for him to come out with a CD. To quote Rod Stewart, "Elliott has a wonderful blue-eyed soul voice."

Good luck, Elliott!!!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

CD fiasco

The other day, I was in Music One in Greenbelt when I decided to look for CDs. I wanted to see if any hard-to-find CDs from my wish-list were available. It was during this search that I stumbled upon an 80’s new wave collection that included “Take on me”, “Every time I see you”, “Ghost in you”, and my favorite new wave song, When in Rome’s “The Promise”. I guess it didn’t really matter how much the CD was, because it would certainly worth it. So imagine my surprise when I flipped it over and saw it cost only P275. Whoa! That was a find!

I guess on some level, alarm bells should have gone off in my head when I saw that it had about 20 songs in it, and cost only that much. Unfortunately, I remained oblivious to this clear indicator that something was not right.

So here I am, all excited about listening to this new CD I got. Upon loading it in my car stereo, well yeah you must have guessed it by now, imagine my sheer disappointment when I realized that all the songs were NOT the original artist’s versions! Ugh. This had to have been the worst CD purchase I have ever made in my life. Or well, okay, maybe in recent history.

One thing I have learned from this though is that when I find one of those inexpensive compilations lying around in a music store, I better check first if it contains the original versions.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Ah, the rollercoaster ride that is American Idol. It rarely ever goes the way that we expect it to go with respect to who gets booted out each week.

Probably the most interesting and memorable moments in AI history, apart from the best performances by the best contestants, are those times when someone completely undeserving gets voted off or when someone undeserving remains in the competition. In season one, Tamyra Gray got voted out after her only slightly bad performance of the season. This, after everyone expected her to get to the finale with Kelly Clarkson. Of course, season 3 had two of the biggest ‘upsets’ in AI history. The first one was halfway through the season when eventual winner Fantasia Barrino, Latoya London, and Jennifer Hudson all ended in the bottom 3 after spectacular performances, with Jennifer Hudson being voted off. I still say that the person who had the best performance in the week they got voted out was Jennifer Hudson (with her powerful rendition of Barry Mannilow’s ‘Weekend in New England’). Then later on in the season, Latoya got voted off while Jasmine Trias remained in the competition, causing the often-high Paula Abdul to bawl her eyes out as Latoya sang her last song of the competition.

It took a couple of expected eliminations (I never really liked Lisa Tucker and always felt she was overrated) before we finally got our first taste of real drama (Katharine McPhee's bottom 2 showing doesn't count) - Mandisa got voted off. Mandisa was definitely one of the strongest vocalists this season, but on country night, she put in a sub-par performance. The thing about great vocalists like her (and Latoya and Anwar Robinson from last season) is that their votes seem to come from people who vote based on performance, and this group rarely forms a solid fanbase. Which means that when a contestant puts in one performance that isn't as good as what they normally churn out, the votes for them tend to thin out (even just a little bit) and as such, they end up in trouble or even get booted out.

This means that one of my fave 6 has gone. There’s a chance that Ace and Bucky will disappear in the next two weeks. The only problem I have is that Kellie Pickler is one of only three people who have never been in the bottom 3, and I get this feeling she may make it terribly deep in this competition. I just hope that this week’s theme - Queen songs - will clearly display her lack of vocal capability (maybe Ace too). Too bad Mandisa isn’t in anymore. It would have been really interesting to see her attempt 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.